One of the challenges of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is that it is difficult to avoid the inevitable changes in season that trigger its symptoms. Over 10 million Americans struggle with symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, even in areas with milder winters. As symptoms coincide with shorter days and colder temperatures that lead to a change in energy levels and activities, symptoms are often just considered “winter blues.” However, many people SAD use unhealthy behaviors to cope, which increases their likelihood of being referred for residential treatment. As Seasonal Affective Disorder is reoccurring, it is common for people to feel discouraged when symptoms reappear the following year despite progress made between episodes.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
As the cold days and dark evenings of winter set in, so do the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) for many people. These symptoms may include lack of energy, lack of interest in activities, feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, craving carbohydrates, withdrawing socially, and other common symptoms of depression. The difference between SAD and depression, is that SAD fluctuates with the seasons, typically appearing in late fall or early winter, and dissipating as the weather warms in the spring.
It is still relatively unknown what causes SAD, but research has revealed some insight: it is thought that the decline in sunlight during winter months disrupts the bodies circadian rhythms – your body’s natural internal clock that dictates when you go to sleep and wake up. It also affects your hormones, mood and appetite. SAD can cause the body to overproduce the hormone, melatonin – which regulates sleep – making you feel sleepier and more lethargic.
How Can It Affect Self-Efficacy?
- Young adults may feel helpless when symptoms reappear
- Suddenly feeling dissatisfied with progress
- Easily bored with routine
- Lack of motivation to complete goals
- Lack of energy or desire to leave the house in “bad weather”
- Fear that symptoms may not go away when the weather changes again
- Isolating from support system due to increased feelings of sadness and loneliness
Why Choose a Transition Program?
During the winter months, young adults are more likely to spend more time inside or online than going out and connecting with others, which is vital to the recovery process. Coupled with finals for students and the stress of the holiday season, young adults are particularly vulnerable to seasonal depression and unhealthy coping mechanisms during this period. While they may have had success in other residential programs during warmer months, it is difficult to apply the same coping mechanisms when the weather interferes with their motivation to leave the house.
Transitional living programs offer support for students who want to maintain changes that they’ve made in residential treatment and would benefit from additional accountability. In a home-like setting, young adults have the freedom to pursue their personal goals with guidance from experienced mentors. Our goal is to help young adults build a stronger sense of self and intrinsic motivation to help them reach their goals year-round. Foundations Asheville takes an experiential approach to helping young adults manage seasonal depression by encouraging students to participate in a variety of seasonal recreation activities.
Foundations Asheville Can Help
Foundations Asheville is a program for young adults ages 18-24 who are struggling to launch into adulthood. This program is committed to helping young adults develop and sharpen the skills they need to be successful in the real world. There is a focus on teaching students how to enter the workforce, develop vocational trades, and functional living skills. Foundations Asheville gives young adults the opportunity to gain confidence, find their purpose, and learn useful skills that will help them navigate through the adult years.
Contact us at (877) 318 – 7273 for more information about seasonal affective disorder in young adults. We can help your family today!